Iceland’s government will not revoke whaling quotas Published: 19 February, 2009
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) is appalled to learn that Iceland’s new minister of fisheries, Steingrimur Sigfusson, is supporting Iceland’s resumption of commercial whaling. He issued a decision yesterday saying that he will not revoke the whaling quotas issued by his outgoing predecessor Fisheries Minister Einar K. Gudfinnsson.
On January 27, just as the previous government was collapsing, Gudfinnsson issued a whaling quota for 150 fin whales and 100 minke whales a year, to run from 2009 to 2013. Despite widespread international protests, including a strongly worded demarche led by the USA, Sigfusson upheld the decision today, citing the support of legal experts in Iceland.
On February 11, ex-minister Gudfinnsson introduced a resolution in support of his whaling quotas to the Icelandic parliament, the Althing. Backed by 36 members, this constituted a majority of the parliament’s 63 members.
Sue Fisher of WDCS stated: ‘WDCS assumes that the previous government’s decision to resume large scale commercial whaling was a desperate attempt to secure income from exports of whale products, including sales to Japan. We have not seen a hunt on this scale in the North Atlantic in decades, and WDCS had hoped that the extent of the backlash against the initial decision would have persuaded the new government to reconsider. We expect further political and economic repercussions if indeed the hunts go ahead as planned.
She added: ‘Iceland has just proved the shortsighted folly of the current efforts within the International Whaling Commission to focus only on bringing Japan’s renegade whaling under international control. The IWC is about to meet to negotiate a deal that would reward Japan’s defiance of the moratorium on commercial whaling by giving it legal quotas. Iceland’s whaling is not even on the agenda for that meeting. The IWC needs to wake up and remember that Japan is not the only nation killing whales.’